Ramblings from an Old Headhunter...

This blog is for those who want to learn more about what Headhunting is about, recruiting top talent, interviewing tips and sourcing tidbits. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Career: Markets Cycles, Transitions & Un/Realistic Moves

In my profession as a headhunter I speak with candidates everyday, and if you include friends and family this also includes weekends and especially holidays. So what has 7 days a week, nearly everyday of the year over nearly 15 years of job-talk given me? …a lot of good material to put me to sleep at night, that’s what! A N D, I suppose it has also taught me something about people and the career placement business.

I want to talk about cycles in this blog. It seems there are cycles with most everything. There are starts and there are ends, there are good times to make change and there are bad times to make change. For example: buying a house, or a car, or even a stock. Looking back at the last 10 years in housing, what would you say to people who bought a house from 2000 to 2003? Was that a good time to buy? Most would agree that it was. What about those that bought from 2004 to 2007? Most would say, not so much. When is a good time to buy a car? Do you like to buy a car in December? I sure don’t, I hate registration due at Christmas, but what about holiday weekends during the Summer? Or on the 30th of the month when dealers want to boost the month’s numbers? What about stocks? Would you buy Microsoft at $100? What about $25? (that’s about where it's at, at the time of this writing). So, just like with buying a home, a car or equities, knowing when to make a move for change holds true for one’s career. Only here it’s based on the type of job market we’re in. There are good markets for making a career transition and difficult markets to make a transition. Most people think they know what this means, …they don’t.

Let me give you a couple of examples. In which of these two examples is the candidate in a better time market cycle to make a move: 1) unemployed person making a move in 2006 or 2) an unemployed person making a move in 2009. Now think of an employed candidate making a move in 2006 and an employed person making a move in 2009. Which candidate is in a better market to make a move? Not so obvious. Now to add to that, what candidate has a better career opportunity ahead of him when s/he makes a move? Who is in a better market to negotiate salary? And to complicate things even more, what type of move should the candidate make in each of these markets? Is the unemployed candidate taking a role in 2006 better off then the employed candidate making a move in 2009? The answer (I studied law before becoming a headhunter, so you’ll appreciate this answer) …it depends. But what does it depend on you ask? Myriad factors. And this is what makes moving careers so difficult and what most every candidate I work with fails to think about prior to my calling. I’m sure if I were a mathematician I might become famous for figuring out such a formula.

But here is what might not be so obvious. In 2006 we were in an employee driven market. Employees could be employed or unemployed it didn’t matter, everyone was working and everybody needed people. So employees had their pick of moves, positions and were able to negotiate salary more aggressively. In 2009 jobs were at a premium only the best were employed, only the top companies were hiring, or moreover replacing. Most companies were downsizing and jobs were not available. So the employed candidate was 10x as attractive as the unemployed candidate. This was, and still is, a client driven market. The clients decide who they want to replace or hire and they take 5x’s as long to make a decision. Furthermore companies very rarely hire someone into a role senior to which they have. Meaning if you are an internal sales professional with Company X, there is a slim chance you will be hired by Company Z to be an outside sales person. Again, things people don’t take into consideration when thinking about making a move in a Client Driven market.

Let me babble about something different for a moment, type of career moves. There are different types of career moves, there are lateral moves, there are steps backward and there are advancements. Most people want to make a career advancement, correct? But do they know when and in what market to make such a move? Do they know what is realistic and what is not? Do they factor in the market cycle we’re in? And career transition, beyond the firm they are with? Do they know how to chart their career progression and at what point to re-write the map to get there? Most haven’t the slightest idea.

(long yawn…) Do I still have some of you? Great. You are the folks I want to speak with, everyone else can (in an English accent) “piss off.” With respect to this blog, there are a couple groups of people I’d like to identify. Simply put:

  • Those that do not know what they want to do when they grow up.


  • Those that do know what they want to do when they grow up.

For the second group, congratulations, your parents are probably proud of you, all those years of schooling has done paid off! Mom can finally say “I’m so proud of [insert favorite name here], s/he was just hired at JPMorgan as a AVP, CRM for SMA’s in the PWG.

What many people do not take the time to think about early in their career is what they want to do when they grow up, how they are going to get there from where they are at to where they want to be. Let me say that again. HOW ARE YOU GOING TO GET FROM WHERE YOU ARE, TO WHERE YOU WANT TO BE?

I ask all my candidates to answer this question before I have them interview. “What do you want to do?” Most say what do you mean? So I give them a bit more to work with: career wise what do you want to do, what does your career look like? And most stumble though and poorly worded answer. So I tell them, figure that out before you interview. I’d say 25% of my candidates withdrawal from my process after they give that some real thought and attention.

This is where I become helpful. I will take a candidate who knows what they want and, I will help them get to where s/he wants to be, but s/he must first know what path they wish to travel. They must know what is a realistic career move, when to move firms, when taking a lateral move is good, what market cycle we’re in and does this help or hurt my chances of making a move now or waiting for 6 months to see if something plays out.

In summary, know what your career road map looks like, know what firm’s you’d like to work for, know what roles you need under your belt to get to where you want to be, and know what market cycle we’re in, because the market cycle will determine what your chances for advancement will look like and whether everything else will play out as you would like it to.

If you have any questions on this or about career moves please drop me an email at ktp_blog @ ktpsearch.com

Written By: Tarin R. Yankovich, CPC
Copyright © 2010
Tarin Yankovich is the Founder and President of KTP Executive Search Group, Inc. based in Los Angeles California. KTP is a Talent Acquisition firm specializing in placing financial services executives across the United States.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

“HEY, Baby Boomers: Quantity does equal Quality!”

I recently had a couple 1st degree LinkedIn contacts of mine ask why I would want so many contacts? I researched these persons to find out who they were and then thought about it a bit reflecting on my mental notes as an executive recruiter and came up with the following.

Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Next & Digital Natives, each have a philosophy on social networking sites (SNS) ranging form “I was born yesterday and my mom already created my Facebook page” to “what is Social Networking.” The latter, mostly Boomers and folks living in internetless trailer parks in San Bernardino, are the ones who I see resisting technology and ultimately suffering, when they don’t take the time to understand not just technology trends, but social and cultural trends, like Social Networking which I dare say is here to stay, …at least until the next technology comes along.

I recently put a post up on LinkedIn touting that I finally reached over 3000 direct connections not as much as some, but more than most, impressive, you decide. From my research, the best estimates indicate that the average user on LinkedIn has somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 connections. I think this number would be less if not skewed by folks like me who push up the median, I believe the mean might be lower. These 3000 connections give me access to over 15 million contacts. In my line of work this type of network is invaluable thus the more the merrier.

Let me explain, one must first UNDERSTAND the dynamics of Social Networking and the various mediums which exist to Social Network; next one needs to have a PLAN in which to execute contacting the network one is utilizing; and finally one needs to know how to USE Social Networking (each medium being different). LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter all have different objectives and are about as similar as a Hammer is to a Screwdriver is to a Wrench; all tools used to fix household problems, but not the same problem.

In essence, if one seeks to find and have the ability to locate as many people as one wishes, say if one were an headhunter, or maybe a bounty hunter I suppose, quality is rewarded 100% of the time by quantity on a site like LinkedIn. How? Lets say I want to locate a Vice President for and Mutual Fund company and I was 1st degree connected with John Schmitz, whom I do not know, who is in Compliance at a Mutual Fund company I want to source from, I can simply introduce myself to John and network with him to find the lead I want. Now lets say John, like myself is well connected on LinkedIn, there is a better chance that John is directly connected to the individual I want to find. I simply have to search his connections or just do a search to find 2nd degree connections. Hence the more connections I have the better my chances of finding more qualified individuals, and I do not even have to contact my 1st degree connections in most cases.

You might ask yourself well what if I’m not a headhunter, why would I want such a large network? First off I’d say, why even have an account at all, the point of Social Networking is to (ready for this) ...NETWORK. One doesn’t typically network only with individuals one already knows.

Next let’s say you were/are a victim of the 2008/9 market downsizing and you have to find a job. Where do you go, what do you do? I would argue that most “employable” people haven’t had to look for a job in at least the last 5 years …safe to say, agree? If beyond 5 years my point is even more valid, because who heard of Social Networking before then. Where would you start? I suspect some Baby Boomers would pick up a newspaper, or maybe the $10M ads of the fuzzy monster running across the screen on Super Bowl Sunday worked and one begins by logging on to a job board. But anyone who has looked for a job in recent times knows this is about as useful as doing nothing at all, you’d be better off to go work on your handicap.

Lets say after a few months of manually tapping your personal network (AKA bugging your friends till you are no longer invited over for weekend barbecues) of the couple hundred industry contacts you ALREADY KNOW, you find out that there really isn’t anything out there, but you heard about this things called Social Networking. So you check out a site like LinkedIn and you create an account. Now what do you do? Do you just wait for someone to find you? Or do you just network with people you already know, we’ll you’ve already seen that movie and you know how that ends; so the answer is “NO” you don’t; you network with as many people as you can. Why? So you can FIND the people you want to play with. And, the more people you are connected with better your chances are of being FOUND. Social Networking works in both directions. So back to my 3000 contacts, I have access to 15 million contacts, …and 15 million people have access TO ME!

Now if I wanted to show off my kids surfing in Maui this summer, then I’d utilize a site like Facebook and connect with friends and family, and chances are professional contacts would have little reason to want be connected, as I’m sure most would want to see my kids as much as I want to see theirs. Really, it just depends on what you want out of a SNS. I choose to use LinkedIn for my professional SNS and I will connect with most anyone if it will increase my network. For personal connections I use Facebook, this still allows for ANYONE to find me who might look there but only allows friends and family to view my personal photos and personal rants and raves (I have the security settings set this way). If a professional contact is looking for me there, they will find me, and I simply direct them to my LinkedIn account.

Sooooo, what does all this jawjacking mean? In the last half dozen years or so, networking, finding people, looking for job/career change, and looking to be found, has changed significantly. The way we communicate with each other personally and professionally has evolved. If you want to be able to find and be found, you must open yourself up to social networking and moreover connecting with as many people as you can on the professional SNS.

If you have any questions on this or about social networking please drop me an email at ktp_blog @ ktpsearch.com

Written By: Tarin R. Yankovich, CPC
Copyright © 2010
Tarin Yankovich is the Founder and President of KTP Executive Search Group, Inc. based in Los Angeles California. KTP is a Talent Acquisition firm specializing in placing financial services executives across the United States.

Friday, July 09, 2010

What Exactly do Headhunters do?

I am constantly asked by my friends and family, "hey you're a headhunter, can you find me a job?" And I always have the same answer, "I'm sorry, I can't." To which I always get, "well why not?" At this point I have to start the long explanation of what it is that I actually do.

So what is it then that we "Headhunters" actually do?

I could answer the question quickly, not really, but that wouldn't be as helpful as also telling you what we don't do. So I'll start here first: What Headhunters do not do:

- We do not find jobs for people

- We do not steal people from companies

- We do not have an infinite amount jobs for infinite industries

- We do not have a database of available talent just waiting for us to call them

- We are not a human resources department (or even closely related)

What We Do Do. (yes, I just said do do, stay focused)

- We find People for Companies (we represent our clients and present their tough to fill assignments.

- We contact targeted people in specific industries with a specific skill set and present them with stronger opportunities

- Most Headhunters work a niche and do not deviate from that area of expertise

- We conduct original research to locate candidates who our Clients can not find or have the time to find on their own

- We get paid, by our clients, either a predetermined flat fee or a % of the candidates first year’s salary (100,000 at 25% fee = $25,000 fee)

These are some of the basics. Headhunting is an Science as well as an Art, there is a system to follow to get the desired results but there is also an Art that takes time and it can’t always be rushed. Some of us recruiters have the gift. You will be able to tell if a recruiter is good if they know what they are talking about, or if they are full of shit and just looking to make a quick dollar.
If the recruiter has a process that makes for smooth communication and easy information exchange they are probably good. You’ll know if they are full of crap if they try and rush you, ask for your resume before they even know your background or want to submit you to a job without giving you a proper interview. If your recruiter has industry knowledge and insight, as anyone who specializes in your industry should know, then they are probably okay. If not watch out, sending a resume and having them submit you can be a big headache and even cost you the job.
If you have any questions please feel free to email me at ktp_blog @ ktpsearch.com

Written By: Tarin R. Yankovich, CPC
Copyright © 2010
Tarin Yankovich is the Founder and President of KTP Executive Search Group, Inc. based in Los Angeles California. KTP is a Talent Acquisition firm specializing in placing financial services executives across the United States.